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Cover art featuring John Vanbiesbrouck
|Developer(s)||High Score Productions (Genesis)
Ceris Software (SNES)
EA Canada (PC)
Visual Concepts (PS, Saturn)
|Genre(s)||Sports - Ice Hockey Sim|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, multiplayer, multiplayer online|
The cover of the game features goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck, who played for the Florida Panthers between 1993–98. NHL 97 was the most recent game of the NHL series to feature a goaltender on the cover until Martin Brodeur was chosen for the cover of NHL 14.
NHL 97 took the graphics even further ahead, using a full 3D engine, with motion captured polygonal players (PlayStation/Saturn versions only, the Mega Drive and SNES versions retained similar graphical values to previous games, but with further enhanced animations). Each goaltender has his own custom-painted mask and the original artwork can be seen inside the game with a special "Goalie Mask Viewer". NHL 97 also introduces play-by-play commentary, provided by well-known announcer Jim Hughson.
For the first time since EA Hockey, national teams were added, but only Canada, the United States, and Russia have their own teams while the other two are selections of the best European players. NHL 97 introduced a skills competition, allowing the user to pick players to compete in drills such as hardest shot, goalie 2 on 0, and accuracy shooting, among others.
In addition, each team in the game had one player with a special skill. Examples are Joe Sakic's (Colorado Avalanche) "wrong-footed wrist shot" and Rob Ray's (Buffalo Sabres) ability to check an opposing player while still controlling the puck. A major flaw in the game was the glitch that allowed players to score 100% of the time when shooting down by taking a shot against the boards at the hash marks of the left circle in the bottom zone.
Along with the PC, Mega Drive/Genesis and SNES versions, both the Sega Saturn and PlayStation version made their debut, although they were rushed and buggy. For instance, the shot speed in the PlayStation and Saturn versions was so slow that some skaters could beat a slapshot down the ice. The cover of the game features Florida Panthers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck.
The game was the first in the series to feature advertising, with the logo for Wendy's shown at center ice for every rink.
This was the last game in the NHL series to be released in Europe on the Super Nintendo.
The game received favorable reviews. GameSpot gave the game a 7.2/10 praising its visuals and realism but some criticism aimed at the handful of glitches. Allgame gave the game a rating of 3.5/5 stars with closing comments stating, "All in all, NHL 97 is still a fun game to play based on the quality of the graphics and presentation, but a few key issues keep it from being the definitive PlayStation hockey experience." The game was honored with a Game of the Year award for Best Sports Game by PC Gamer.
- December 1, 1996 12:00AM PST (1996-10-31). "NHL 97 Review". GameSpot.com. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
- Alan, Scott (2010-10-03). "NHL 97 - Review". allgame. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
- "PC Gamer reveals its 1997 award winners. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. 1997-02-06. Retrieved 2012-05-29.